“Everyone can be influenced by God,” says Hankuri Gaya, “so you have the capacity to influence others … and be a leader anywhere, anytime.”

Pastor Hankuri Gaya and Dr. Phil Morrison, co-authors of the upcoming book Influence: Leading Without Position from Oasis International Publishing, recently participated in an online webinar to discuss their new book. Influence examines the principles for leadership from a biblical perspective, and how to succeed as a leader even if you do not have a formal position. Participants eagerly tuned in from across the globe, from Nigeria to South Africa, America to Kenya, and South Sudan to the United Arab Emirates.

Moderator Nyambura Kamau, Regional Director, East Africa for Oasis, asked the co-authors how the process of writing Influence helped clarify for them what qualities define a good leader? Dr. Phil Morrison commented that his perspective on leadership was broadened, as influence is not necessarily connected to an official leadership role. Morrison noted that, “some of the most influential leaders are informal leaders.” Pastor Gaya remarked that the very process of writing and publishing a book shaped his perspective. He shared about how the writing experience reminded him of importance of those without positional power, working along side those in formal leadership positions in order to be successful, “In all your writing, you have the idea, [but] you need editors! … you can’t be alone—you need input from others … you have to respect others’ leadership. If you’re going to succeed as a leader, you need others!”

Influence will be released September 2020. Drawing on the example of young men and women in the Bible and real-life situations in Africa, Influence gives practical steps to influence others regardless of one’s formal position. As an illustration, Morrison gave the biblical example of Jonathan’s behavior during an invasion of the Philistines. Despite the impending threat of the invading force, King Saul had taken no action to protect his people. Seeing the need, Jonathan took the initiative to engage the Philistines in combat, which God rewarded by giving him the victory. Once King Saul and his people saw Jonathan’s bold leadership, they were motivated to get involved themselves, fighting to defend Israel. In the same way as Jonathan, we too can take initiative to do what is right, leading others in a cause that is honoring to God.

How to promote and encourage the growth of young leaders was a reoccurring theme in the discussion. To both Gaya and Morrison, fostering the development of leadership traits in young people is essential. “You can’t bend a stick,” says Gaya, “You can only bend it when it’s fresh.” Morrison agrees, encouraging older leaders to “start small, encourage what [young leaders are] doing … look for people with hearts to serve and to learn, and disciple them on the way.” However, the best way to cultivate leadership in others is to live an authentic, influential life yourself. Gaya pointed out that “Life attracts. If your life is set on a course, young people will be attracted to your life.”

“Servant leadership is a basic thing that needs to be stressed…leadership isn’t just a position, it’s servant-ship.”

– Philip E. Morrsion, co-author, Influence: Leading Without Position

However, true influence that is honoring to God is only possible when it is based on the humble leadership of Christ. Morrison made it clear that to truly lead and influence others, we must have a heart to serve them first. He commented that “Servant leadership is a basic thing that needs to be stressed … leadership isn’t just a position, it’s servant-ship.” However, this will come naturally as we draw nearer to our savior and redeemer. Morrison noted that “If you are influenced by God, you will serve as a model of what Christ did.” Gaya agreed, noting that to influence others well, we must follow the example of Jesus, who “was intentional about raising the torch.” As we live our lives, we “need to keep stressing, how am I influenced by God?” Only then, as our hearts and lives grow to align with that of Christ, will we be able to use our God-given influence for the benefit and up-building of others.

Dr Phil Morrison, has years of experience with Africa Inland Mission, and Pastor Hankuri Gaya is Area Director and Strategic Plan Officer of Nigeria Fellowship of Evangelical Students.

Watch a recording of the engaging and exciting discussion, in the full webinar below.